Tag Archives: bert cregg

MSU Christmas tree resources abound

If you’re a procrastinator and you haven’t purchased your Christmas tree yet or even if you’ve had it up and decorated for weeks, you’ll want to listen to a conversation on WKAR. Kirk Heinze, host of Greening of the Great Lakes, interviews Bert Cregg, Michigan State University Extension specialist and associate professor of horticulture and forestry, on how to pick out, care for and dispose of a live Christmas tree: http://www.mlive.com/environment/index.ssf/2015/11/michigans_christmas_tree_indus.html

(After clicking on the above link, scroll down for the link to the conversation.)

Dr. Cregg mentions that many people have never had a real Christmas tree. To allay their doubts and fears, he and his team have developed programs and educational resources. One such resource is an MSU Extension article on first-time tree buying by Dr. Cregg and senior Extension educator Jill O’Donnell:

http://msue.anr.msu.edu/news/buying_your_first_farm_grown_christmas_tree

Scroll down on the same page to find more articles, a Michigan Fresh fact sheet Michigan Christmas Trees (written by Jill O’Donnell, Bert Cregg and Extension educator Erin Lizotte) and videos produced by Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications on selecting and caring for your tree.

Here’s a link to 14 new 15-second videos produced by ANR Communications giving species-specific information regarding Christmas trees: http://bit.ly/1ORVlc4. Retailers can use QR codes that link to the videos on tree tags to help consumers optimize tree quality and longevity.

In addition to educating the public, MSU Extension and AgBioResearch specialists and scientists are busy doing research that will assist growers with fertilization management. They’re also working with genetic selection, finding and identifying the species and types of trees that adapt best to Michigan growing conditions.

Watch this ANR Communications-produced video on Christmas tree research, part of the Did You Know? video series:

The video will be shown on WKAR on the following dates and times:

  • WKAR HD: Sat., Dec. 19, 4:57 p.m.
  • WKAR HD: Mon., Dec. 21, 12:27 a.m.
  • WKAR HD: Tues., Dec. 22, 10:57 p.m.
  • WKAR CRT (Create): Tues., Dec. 22, 3:56 p.m.

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The Christmas tree season is all year long

Since the holiday season is over, it may be easy to put the idea of Christmas trees behind you. However, our Michigan State University Extension specialists and educators are working with Christmas tree producers year-round to ensure that their trees are ready to sit in our living rooms at the end of the year. This was clearly highlighted in this quarter’s Great Lakes Christmas Tree Journal, published by the Michigan Christmas Tree Association in January 2015, in which MSU Extension specialists and educators demonstrated their expertise on almost every page.

Of the columns that were featured, the authors from MSU Extension included Extension educator Christina Curell and senior Extension educator Jill O’Donnell as well as Extension specialists Bert Cregg and Pascal Nzokou.

The content that is published in the Great Lakes Christmas Tree Journal is received by four regions: Ontario, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan. I’m very proud to see the amount of scholastic effort that was put into this publication by our staff members, and how active they are in sharing the resources of Michigan State University. Keep up the great work!

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Filed under Agriculture

MSUE colleagues share their insights on working differently with technology

MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference

Left to right: MSU Extension educator Holly Tiret, MSU Extension director Tom Coon and MSU Extension educator Carolyn Penniman attended the National eXtension Conference that ran from March 24 to 27, 2014, in Sacramento, Calif.

I was fortunate to attend the National eXtension Conference in Sacramento, California, this week, and was very pleased to see so many Michigan State University Extension colleagues there. Beth Stuever, communications manager, and Megghan Honke, event planner in Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR) Communications, gave a whirlwind overview of the integration of the new MSU Extension website and ANR Event Services. Bert Cregg, associate professor of horticulture, showed how he has adapted social media to engage blog readers in the planning of a research project on tree transplanting. Extension educators Carolyn Penniman and Holly Tiret showed how the RELAX – Alternatives to Anger team has used technology to reach a broader audience. Extension Health and Nutrition Institute educator Linda Cronk assisted in the presentation of the recommendations from a national task force on health (co-led by University of Delaware Cooperative Extension associate dean and director Michelle Rodgers) to a national meeting of Extension directors and administrators. In addition, several MSU Extension colleagues who provide leadership to Communities of Practice attended for CoP program planning and development, including Extension specialist Dionardo Pizaña, program leader Bruce Haas and specialist Wayne Beyea. What I found most gratifying was to see how eXtension, which has been of great assistance to MSUE, benefits in so many ways from the contributions of MSUE colleagues. Thanks to all who attended and those who engaged through online and recorded presentations. We’re having an impact nationally thanks to these great efforts.

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Do your homework before going Christmas tree shopping

It’s that time of year. It’s already December and before you know it, Christmas with be here. Decorating is a big part of the holiday. Many of you will go out this weekend looking for that perfect tree. And what better place than Michigan?

A recent Michigan State University Extension news article by Bert Cregg, MSU associate professor in the departments of Horticulture and Forestry, and Jill O’Donnell, senior Extension educator, says that Michigan’s climate and soils allow our Christmas tree growers to produce a wider variety of trees than almost any other state. Unfortunately, sometimes having many choices can cause shoppers to become overwhelmed and confused.

Not to worry, the article “Selecting the Perfect Christmas Tree: Tree Types” will serve as a guide to help you select the right tree for you and your family. Who doesn’t get annoyed when fallen needles cover wrapped presents under the tree? This article lets you know which trees have good needle retention. You may have furry friends that just won’t leave the tree alone. Bert and Jill will let you know which tree keeps pets at bay.

Included in the article are photos of each tree species as well as videos that give details about some of them.

Other helpful and timely MSU Extension articles are “Picking and Caring for the Perfect Christmas Tree” by Extension educator Erin Lizotte and Jill, and “Keeping Your Real Christmas Tree Fresh This Holiday Season” by Jill and Bert.

It’s great to have this expertise available to us at the click of the mouse on our MSU Extension website. And I’ve seen links to them on several social media sites in Michigan and beyond. This is a great example of using the news articles on our website to get out information that people are seeking, and answering questions from many more people than we would get just from telephone calls to county Extension offices in the past.

In addition, visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association website for information on where to buy trees as well as other helpful tips.

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New soil test self-mailers are a team effort

In a past Spotlight, I wrote about the efforts of the Consumer Horticulture Team to simplify the process by which consumers can submit samples of their soil for testing to get an accurate assessment of soil quality for their lawns or gardens. The result was a soil test self-mailer.

 Now, thanks to the hard work and creative efforts of the soil test team, the new Michigan State University Extension’s Home Lawn and Garden Soil Test Mailer (E3154) is now available through the MSUE Bookstore. Past kits handled lawns and veggies only. These new kits, strictly for homeowners, include all home and garden uses – lawns and veggies as well as trees, shrubs, annual flowers, perennial flowers or fruit.

 I want to thank the soil test team for their diligence in bringing this product to fruition.

 Back in 2006, Mary Wilson led an effort in MSU Extension Oakland County to increase staff efficiency, decrease turnaround time for soil-test customers and create consistency between counties in the soil-testing process. Of course, the main goal remained to protect water quality while helping people grow healthy plants. At that time, large counties would receive 600 to 800 homeowner soil tests to interpret. Mary submitted a regional Project GREEEN grant proposal to develop a related soil test website. Funded in 2007, website production involved Mary, Jeremy Lounds (the current programmer), Kevin Frank and Ron Calhoun.

 The Oakland County soil testing initiative led by Bindu Bhakta generated hundreds of homeowner soil samples. Consumers turned their samples in at local garden centers.

 Mary recalls, “We would then pick up the samples and deliver them to campus. It was a very inefficient and cumbersome process during a very busy time of year. We kept brainstorming about how to improve efficiency, make the program less cumbersome and be cost effective. During one of our brainstorming sessions with support staff person Linda Smith, we came across the idea of a soil test self-mailer based on one created by Clemson University. Bingo! We thought it would be great solution. And, we could couple the self-mailer with the soil-test interpretation website…”

 The soil test team includes Bindu Bhakta, Bert Cregg, Jon Dahl, Rebecca Finneran, Kevin Frank, Mark Longstroth, Jeremy Lounds, Cheryl Peters and Mary Wilson. Jennie Stanger and Allen Krizek were involved with the project before they retired.

 Bindu Bhakta became project leader in 2009, keeping the project moving and on track. Under her leadership, the project received additional funding from two MSUE PREF (Program Recovery Funds) grants for development and implementation. Both Bindu and the soil-test team members took this on in addition to their regular tasks, developing the soil test self-mailer and completing work on the MSU Soil test website so it could develop custom recommendations for home lawn and garden soil samples.

 How does the soil test kit work? Customers order a kit online from the MSUE Bookstore at http://web2.msue.msu.edu/bulletins2/product/soil-test-kit-selfmailer-1116.cfm. The cost is $25. The kit contains everything a home gardener needs to submit a soil sample for testing to the MSU Soil and Plant Nutrient Laboratory (SPNL). SPNL will analyze the sample and contact the customer through email. The email will contain a direct link to the MSU Soil Test website where the customer can view his or her fertilizer recommendation and any necessary pH modification instructions. Customers without email or Internet access will receive printed copies of their personalized recommendations from the SPNL. Counties may also order soil test mailers to sell through their offices.

 Thank you to all who made this project possible. With creative use of technology, our staff worked together to come up with an efficient solution.

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Buy real, buy local and make this a real Michigan Christmas

You can help both the local economy and the environment this year by purchasing Michigan-grown Christmas trees and poinsettias.

 Michigan ranks third among the states in Christmas tree production and seventh in poinsettia production. Buying locally grown trees and plants not only gives a boost to our local economy but it helps the environment as well. You may be under the impression that it’s better for the environment to purchase an artificial tree than to chop down a real one. But artificial trees contain non-biodegradable plastics and possible metal toxins. Natural trees are renewable and recyclable, and poinsettias can be easily composted.

 A USDA grant is funding a new marketing campaign called “Make It a Real Michigan Christmas” that promotes buying real Christmas trees and poinsettias from local growers. Visit realmichiganchristmas.com for loads of information on everything from caring for trees and poinsettias to finding a local tree retailer to learning how trees and plants boost your mood.

 Michigan State University associate professor in the departments of Horticulture and Forestry Bert Cregg talked with Kirk Heinze on “Greening of the Great Lakes” about the campaign and about Christmas tree production in Michigan. Tune in to find out not only about the industry but also how to choose and care for your tree.

 The show will air at 11:30 a.m. Saturday on WJIM-1240 AM in Lansing, WNEM-1250 AM in Saginaw, WMMI-830 AM in Mount Pleasant and WKLQ-1490 AM in Muskegon. It will also air at 11:30 a.m. Sunday on WJRW-1340 AM in Grand Rapids and at 7:30 p.m. Sunday on WJR-760 AM in Detroit.

 You can also click here to listen online at any time or to read more about it.

 Visit the Michigan Christmas Tree Association website for more information about buying and caring for trees.

 Michigan is such a beautiful place, it practically sells itself. Promoting the combination of locally grown poinsettias and Christmas trees is like Pure Michigan times two.

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